Protecting Europe's forests by increasing biodiversity
Overexploitation of Europe's rich forests for timber and other products threatens the future of this important natural resource. Today, monocultures of lucrative species like the Norway spruce exist in many regions. In order to reclaim these areas, sustainable forest management theory must be put into practice. To re-establish much needed biodiversity, new species must be introduced to the monocultures. The LIFE QUALITY Programme funded forest scientists from ten organisations across the continent to develop and disseminate knowledge of how best to meet the challenges of the forest conversion process. The most important factor identified during the research campaign was the issue of proper site selection. The aspects that must be considered are the availability of light, water and nutrients, species compatibility and species robustness. Beech was identified as an ideal species for underplanting in existing Norway spruce monocultures. The special root system of this broad-leafed species did not compete directly with that of the spruce and also provided additional resistance to drought. Particular attention must be paid, however, to the light conditions, as either too much or too little light negatively impacted the beech saplings. The project coordinator, the University of Ulm, gathered the knowledge deriving from the research campaign into a single, coherent document for forest managers. A shortened version of the Silvicultural Management Guideline is available on the project web site (http://www.sustman.de) in the English, Czech, German and Slovenian languages. Following the recommendations in the Guideline, forest managers can increase biodiversity and safeguard European forests for future generations.